“Entering His Rest”: A Weekend Worship Poem

Every Friday, I awake in peace–not on schedule, but when my body has had enough rest. I drink an ENORMOUS London Fog, overly sweetened with vanilla and tasting of a quaint sort of purity. Do I need thirty-six ounces of hot beverage? Most of you would say no, but on this day, I do! Well, as the day continues, I worship… I sing with those who love Jesus–everything from Stuart Townend, Don Moen, and Keith Green to old, nostalgic children’s artists like Ernie Rettino… Anyone who loves our Lord. I write, and I teach the Word, and I pray and read. I walk on the treadmill because it is a glorious means of bowing my heart before Him, but I do not engage in other exercises. I do crucial housework, like putting away medication shipments that must be frozen, but I don’t do any straightening beyond that. I communicate on spiritual levels, but I don’t answer work- or class-related calls. I spend time with loved-ones, and it is beautiful. I enjoy my guide-dog, for it is on this day that we have time to just be together, she and I, without the busyness that attends the rest of the week. I anoint the places I and my loved-ones frequent most, praying for them directly or by proxy. Often, I undertake a project related to the things of the Lord–unpacking several volumes of a Braille Bible and comparing the new translation with my other Bible versions, reading the Passion accounts in John 18-19, working toward completing a Bible-based Librivox recording… I listen only to material contained on my iPod–Shekinah-related, or at the least wholesome, material that I KNOW to be righteous. I take time to look at collections and collages of beauty–things like polished rocks, not one like any of the others. I find quiet sanctuaries–rooms and times and places to be alone with the Lord. I end the day with a semi-extravagant meal, worshiping all the while. And then, there’s the close of the day–rest and slumber, knowing that I have been washed from weariness, both inside and out.

This is my Sabbath.

Why on Friday? Logistics only, beloved readers. Both Saturday and Sunday tend to be overflowing with necessary work–errands that can only be run over the weekend, an extroverted church that tends to overwhelm my introverted self, much hustle and bustle and noise. By contrast, Friday is quiet and restful enough to really treasure. So, for the time being, Friday it is. The heart intent of the fourth commandment, as I see it, is to set aside a day consecrated to the Lord, and to rest on that day–doing nothing in my own strength, but dedicating my VERY to Him.

This Friday’s PROJECT involves telling others what He has done for me. Last week’s moment of “spiritual productivity”, not work but an outpouring of praise, consisted of a little poem that God gave me. I’m pasting it below for any possible edification it might hold. Before you read it, though, a few concepts:

I. This poem was supposed to consist of seven stanzas, each with seven lines–completion and perfection in the Lord. However, He gave me another verse, and I couldn’t discard it…

II. Mariocoi is the Greek word for “blessed”, but means something greater than a mere sort of happy reward. It means something akin to “joyed, satisfied, and contented at your very core, deep within your soul and spirit”.

III. Hesed: An English transliteration of a Hebrew term meaning “lovingkindness”–the Hebrew equivalent of agape.

IV. “Bread and wine”: In that stanza, I’m referring to Communion, but also to the Friday evening meal I often enjoy with my loved-ones. Private Communion first, often earlier in the day, and then this celebratory meal, in which there is sometimes literal wine and a large loaf of bread on the table.

V. The fireplace referred to in the seventh stanza is actually symbolic of certain wholesome books that I take in each Friday. Though not directly Christian, they are gentle and nostalgic, like playing a board game or, yes, like a crackling fireplace. A good way to relax so that I can sleep that night, a transition between radiantly holy things and mundane matters. They still border on brightness and joy, but they also act as camomile, making it less challenging to transition between rest and work.

VI. Chiming hours: Not because of a clock, but because of the Northern Lights. I own various sets of chimes, many of them decorated with Christian symbols and inscriptions, all of varied and beautiful sounds. They sing of church bells, of harps, of pianos and tambourines, of wholehearted praise. I was once told that the Northern Lights are the visual equivalent of those chimes. So, chiming hours refers to wind-chimes and to what the Alaskan Northern Lights must surely be like.

VII. The title, “Entering His Rest”, comes from Hebrews 4. For, my beloved reader, whether or not you agree that I should be observing a day set apart, or that that day should be a non-Sunday, this Sabbath poem is really more metonymy than anything else. “Sabbath” is a part of a whole, an earthly part of the whole, wondrous rest that our Lord Jesus provides.
And, on that note:

Entering His Rest

Listen to the Sabbath silence–
Look back on all the days
You served with diligence and care
With excellence and praise…
But in these early morning hours,
Simply thank Him for His rest.
Oh, today! Today, the Sabbath!

Listen to the Sabbath stillness–
Raise your hands and bow,
And as you hear His still, small voice,
Surrender hoe and plough.
For it is by His might, not yours,
That all your toil is blessed.
Oh, worship Him this Sabbath!

Listen to the Sabbath, singing–
Walk with Him each step
In fear and awe and holiness,
And let Him guide, direct…
See Him go before you
As you’re walking, fully dressed
In royal robes, for Sabbath.

Listen to the Sabbath, shouting–
Read till mariocoi
Sweeps through you, cleansing, filling you
And dancing you with joy.
Shalom your heart, abide in Him,
And take in His hesed.
Oh, hide His Word this Sabbath!

Listen to the Sabbath, speechless.
Encourage from His Word,
For ministry is never work
When poured out through the Lord.
Yes, in your heart, be speechless,
But use your mouth! Attest
That you are His, this Sabbath.

Listen to the Sabbath, soaring!–
Feast on bread and wine,
Make all your moments gifts to Him,
In spirit, soul, and mind.
Yes, even mundane things are filled
With joyful, wondering zest
Upon this holy Sabbath.

Listen to the Sabbath, smiling,
Treasuring the time
He gives to you for earthly things–
For family, fireplace, and rhyme.
Enjoy these chiming evening hours
Of leisure at its best.
Oh, cherish this, your Sabbath.

Listen to the Sabbath, sleeping–
A gift for His beloved.
Let peace and comfort cover you
And let your soul be salved.
For you are free, pure, clean, and whole,
No longer bound, oppressed…
Lord, thank You for this Sabbath.

“Talitha Cumi”: His Touch, His Word, His Voice

Please Note: This is the text of a speech that I recently delivered to a Bible class. If you have any further questions, please feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll get back with you.
Beloved readers, my heart would like to ask yours a question. Have you ever felt like you were dying–even after you came to know Jesus? Have you ever felt shriveled up, weighed down by sorrow or pain or fear, like you were going to wither away? Have you ever felt dry and parched spiritually? I know I have–sometimes for weeks or months. All the gory details would fill pages, perhaps volumes, if I wrote them down. But the Lord Jesus has given me an answer so great, so glorious, that it would fill entire libraries–never mind my few pages!
In Mark 5:40-43, we read of a child who had just died: Jesus “took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.”
This child had died physically; have we ever felt so sick at heart, or in soul or spirit, that nothing else mattered and we couldn’t see clearly?
And yet, my beloved readers… Can you see Him? In that desolate room, amid such grief, He took the child by the hand. He does the same for us–He touches us with tenderness, comfort, compassion. Then, He speaks. His message to us has three parts:
“Little girl”… We may not be able to understand the intensity of this because of cultural differences, but He was identifying with who she was in that moment. Perhaps the translation read more like, “My child.” How does He address you? “My son? My daughter? Dearly-beloved? Young man? Chosen vessel? Man of valor”? Or does He call you by name?
“I say to you”… This is so powerful because Jesus’ authority is more than enough for our need, no matter how great it may seem to us. “I say to you,” says our Father, says His Son, says the Holy Spirit. This is the most important part of the message, and it is enough. Oh, do you hear that authority in His voice!?
“Arise.” That simple command follows directly from Jesus’ authority. Because He is all-powerful, we may arise–not in our own strength, but in His.
This is what Jesus says to us. Now, let’s look at what He does for us.
The girl stood and walked. Immediately–there was no protracted recovery, no continually feeling weak, no waiting to see whether she was really healed. No, she stood and walked, and ate. That is the power of God–His power allows us not only to rise, but also makes us whole enough, often immediately, to walk with Him and to feast on the Bread of Life.
And when He does, the result isn’t just revival in our own hearts. Mark says that all who knew of the girl’s healing were amazed. When Jesus touches us, we are able to so radiate His glory and presence that others will see His work in us and glorify God. That goes back to what many of us are learning about ministry–God works in us to comfort others, all for the aim of furthering God’s kingdom.
I hope the answer for you is no, but I’ll ask again. Do you ever feel like you’re dying–though you have tasted His goodness? Call out to Him. Ask, seek, and knock. He says the same thing to all of our hearts. Calling to you tenderly, touching your life, He will command, “I say to you, arise.” And soon, perhaps in the next instant, you will be strengthened. Even those around you will be amazed, and you will go on your way, leaping and singing and feasting… REJOICING!